A few reflections:

  1. Doctrine (non-essential, biblical teachings) is no substitute for evangelism.
  2. While there is a minimum set of truths (essential, biblical teachings) that must be believed in order to be saved (see 1 Cor. 15:3-5), there is also a ceiling to the truths (essential, biblical teachings) that must be believed in order to be saved.
  3. Therefore, knowing some redemptive truth may not entail knowing enough redemptive truth to be saved. Scripture records instances where people received some redemptive truths but were urged to believe further redemptive truths in order to be saved (see, e.g., the Samaritans, Jn. 4:20-24; God-fearing Jews and Gentiles, Acts 2:5; 10:2; zealous Jews, Rom. 10:1-3; presumably Jewish apostates, Heb. 6:4-6).
  4. God has spoken finally and completely to us in His Son (Heb. 1:1-2) and we must not fall short in communicating essential truths about His person and work when sharing the Good News with others.
  5. At the same time, we must not go beyond what is necessary for one to know about Christ in order to be saved. Election, predestination, eternal security, the fate of those who’ve never heard the Gospel, and the like are all vital in understanding the richness of redemption, but do not in themselves constitute part of the Gospel message.

2 Comments

  1. Nicely put, Paul. Too many times folks think they’ve done evangelism when they have invited people to “follow Jesus” (whatever that means) without disclosing the full story of salvation. As far as the other extreme goes, viz. too much information, I think that the greatest overkill occurs probably not so much with doctrine, but with apologetics arguments. Some people respond to the gospel directly, thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit, and don’t need to be confused by our bringing up arguments in response to questions that they’re not even asking. :) Win

  2. Thanks, Win. Indeed there is full story to convey and being a Jesus follower entails, at minimum, knowing some things about the One we’re to follow.

    Completely agree that apologetics is no substitute for evangelism. Instead, apologetic endeavors involve pre-evangelism, laying down the structure in which the Gospel makes sense and can be heard.

    You’re so right that not every answer has a question! So often those of us who are armed with apologetics face the danger of merely entertaining ourselves at the expense of genuine listening. In fact, every apologetics course should have integrated into it some listening skills. Perhaps required reading of Adler’s How To Speak, How To Listen? Or something like that. Similarly, at the end of a Greek class at Denver Sem, we were required to read Using New Testament Greek in Ministry, which basically showed us how not to use the Greek from the pulpit. After being armed with Greek, we were challenged to use it wisely. Likewise, after being armed with arguments for the faith, we must be challenged on how to use them wisely, which, at least, includes good listening.

    Okay…end of rant!

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